BBC Sport pundit Garth Crooks has named West Brom defender Kyle Bartley in his Premier League team of the Week despite nearly costing his side.
Bartley was left exposed early on in Albion’s 0-0 draw at Burnley on Saturday when his centre-back partner Semi Ajayi was sent off on the half-hour mark.
This forced a reshuffle among the backline with Dara O’Shea coming on to assist the 29-year-old as they prepared to face an onslaught from Sean Dyche’s charges.
That attacking barrage never really came as Albion actually looked the more threatening but Crooks still opted to select Bartley in his team of the week, telling BBC Sport that he was “immense under the circumstances and although he rode his luck, the Baggies deserve a little at the moment.”
The element of fortune that Crooks is alluding to involved a potential handball by the former Arsenal player early into the second half.
Crooks said Bartley was “very lucky not to concede a penalty…everyone I spoke to was as convinced as I was that referee Mike Dean had got the decision terribly wrong.”
Best performance of the season?
We’re not sure if shutting out a side that mustered just six shots and one on target represents a defensive masterclass but with our recent record, we can’t afford to be too fussy.
The stalemate in Lancashire was our first clean sheet under Big Sam at the 13th attempt and was just our third all season, with our previous one coming in a 1-0 win over Sheffield United on November 28.
The stats certainly portray Bartley as the main protagonist in helping to shield Sam Johnstone in goal as he made more clearances (five) than any other Albion player to bring up 95 for the season, a club-high statistic [BBC Sport].
Furthermore, according to Wyscout, Bartley made 21 recoveries against Burnley – by far his biggest tally of the season and way above his 9.53 per 90 average.
He also won six out of his nine aerial duels (67%) which is a very respectable total given this is one of Burnley’s biggest strengths.
We don’t agree with Crooks regarding the penalty as it happened at a rapid rate and it did not deserve to take the gloss off of a fine performance that might well rank as his best of the current campaign.
With Ajayi suspended for Albion’s crucial clash with Brighton on Saturday Bartley will need to maintain these lofty standards if we are to secure a victory and leave ourselves a glimmer of hope in the battle for Premier League survival.
In other West Brom news, Paul Scharner believes Albion can compete at the top.